Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Creating Authenticity – Can it be Done?

Dateline: 8:08 pm September 18, 2013 Filed under:

How do developers create authenticity and community? It is a big question, and increasingly important, since apartment vacancy won’t remain below 3% forever and apartment developer/owners will have to find ways to set their buildings apart from the competition and keep occupancy healthy in the long run. Authenticity is one of many words used to describe great cities, including community, gritty, lively, and serendipity. In a January Financial Times essay, Edwin Heathcote says, “There is the thrill of serendipity, to wander from a tight, dark alley into a small square with a fountain.” This begs the question, can every developer create…

We Need Transit and the Urbanism that Surrounds It

Dateline: 2:47 pm May 8, 2013 Filed under:

Kate Wolford’s Star Tribune commentary calling for more transit was spot on. Our peer cities (Denver, Portland, Charlotte, Salt Lake City, hell, even St. Louis!) are ahead of us in terms of built rail miles, lines and stations. We must do more than catch up to remain an attractive metro area for all. Rail miles, lines and stations are important, but equally if not more so is the fabric of the city once people step off the platform. That is where we must set ourselves apart, and that requires something much more robust than station area planning. All hands must be…

Validate My Walking

Dateline: 11:42 pm January 21, 2013 Filed under:

“Can we validate your parking, sir?” was the question posed as I paid my dinner tab this evening here in Nashville. I said “No, thank you. I’m walking.” As the waiter walked away I tried to come up with a cheeky response about validating my walking, but alas I’m not too quick on my feet. After all it was a pleasant, chilly evening, and I had a pleasant walk back to my hotel. Burning off a little dinner and getting some fresh air is enough for me – I don’t ask much. The walk got me thinking, as walks tend…

Transit and Density are (Gasp!) Related?

Dateline: 10:33 am November 16, 2012 Filed under:

If you listen to the press, bikes are all the rage and new rail transit lines are still the darlings of politicians and transportation planners. Incredibly, what is still overlooked in the mainstream press is the intricate relationship between transportation and land use. Even when it is mentioned, it is often a one-size-fits all scenario. We need clarity and nuance on this issue, and that isn’t easy. Take for example two disparate stories this week in the media. One was a New York Times blog discussing cycling improvements in Amsterdam. The other was entitled “Save the Earth, Drive Your Car”…

Form-Based Code Key to Bay Area TOD Success

Dateline: 6:22 am July 23, 2012 Filed under:

When it opened in 2010, Walnut Creek Apartments provided 422 apartment units and 35,000 square feet of street-facing retail immediately adjacent to the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station of the BART system, located in Walnut Creek, California, in the bay area east of San Francisco. What isn’t immediately evident when visiting this attractive transit-oriented development is that it is the culmination of a decade of planning that followed several proposed projects that were rejected by the public prior to that. The key to achieving this successful transit-oriented development (TOD) was the facilitation of an intensive charrette process, followed by the…